Rebecca Devine, a DTP student based at the University of East Anglia, wanted to gain experience in Science Policy and so applied for one of the prestigious RCUK Policy Internships. After successfully going through the application process Rebecca secured a placement based at Government Office for Science in London.
Rebecca undertook her internship during her second Year, which she found was a good time to take a break and gain some perspective on her PhD research, but still left two years to conduct experiments for her thesis when she returned.
As a project research officer at the Government Office for Science Rebecca’s responsibilities involved conducting research into multiple areas of science that affected cross-governmental issues and presenting this research to senior civil servants and government ministers in the form of letters, briefing packs and workshops. During her time at Go-Science, she was also offered the opportunity to assist the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the Department of Health who focuses on AMR, which was the topic of her PhD research. “I was able to use my knowledge of the subject to write talks and presentations for the CMO to deliver at multiple meetings. I also had an event management role at both departments, organising and attending high level, cross-sectoral meetings both in the UK and abroad”.
Working in the government, Rebecca was able to develop her writing skills, interview techniques and gained a wider appreciation of the roles available to scientists outside of academia. Rebecca also valued the networking opportunities as she was able to network with senior academics, ministers and government officials, some of whom she has maintained contact with since returning to Norwich. Rebecca also gained many other skills; “I gained a lot of self-confidence from my work in the government. I learned how to better make myself heard in meetings and conduct myself effectively in the workplace”, reflects Rebecca. Being able to interact with scientists from so many different backgrounds also gave Rebecca perspective on her own research and the freedom to think of new ideas. Rebecca also found that working in the government helped her manage her time and achieve a better work-life balance.
In terms of her career, this placement has opened her eyes to the opportunities available once she completes her PhD and has given her the confidence to apply for roles that interest her.
Overall, Rebecca found her placement to be a very positive experience and advises future PIPS students to make the most of every opportunity as three months will go by quicker than you think.